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Why I Started SHUFL

Simon Webster
Image of Simon Webster

SHUFL Capital was founded to invest in the “four foundations of happiness”

  1. good sleep
  2. health self-confidence
  3. fitness of mind and body to pursue life to the full
  4. spending leisure time doing things we really enjoy

and in case you haven’t figured it out yet, the word SHUFL is an acronym for sleep, health, fitness and leisure (with u at the centre). I do get asked quite often where my geekiness about helping people to sleep better came from, and why I founded SHUFL.

Well, here it is, the story of SHUFL…

My career prior to 2000 was a decent, if a little unremarkable, series of roles that had built me into a financially-literate, people-oriented, operational change leader in the UK financial services industry. I had reached a good level of competence and achievement and was ready for the next step. That step turned out to be an opportunity to move to Jersey and become an executive team member for a small IP services business called CPA. For 9 years thereafter, I thoroughly enjoyed myself professionally, and along the way co-created two gorgeous girls to boot.

However, in 2009 my world changed forever. I went through a serious mental health crisis.

For me, it manifested itself in two ways – skin-crawling anxiety and skull-emptying insomnia. I was barely functional. I threw myself into making myself better whilst “faking it until I made it” at work. I started running – 10k, half-marathons, marathons – and I started weight training, spending hours every week on the road or in the gym using physical exertion to lift my anxiety. I tried Chinese medicine. I tried acupuncture. I boiled banana skins to make tryptophan tea (tryptophan is a pre-cursor to serotonin). I had CBT counselling. I literally researched and tried everything. And, eventually, I got better.

When I had finally put my insomnia and anxiety behind me I promised myself that when I finished work I would do something that would help other people that were in the same position I was in. I honestly felt that only people who have been there can truly understand the horror of anxiety and insomnia and all of them would feel the same way about helping others out of the “hole”.

Some 10 years later I was very fortunate to be able to sell CPA for the 4th time, and this time to conclude my career (or so I thought, I have since gone back to work) at the age of 50. I was now financially secure in terms of pursuing whatever I wanted to do. My thoughts turned immediately to the promise I had made to my younger self. I thought about doing charity work for a mental health charity, or perhaps become a counsellor. But I felt that I had to do more than that with the means I had been given.

I wanted to be able to make an impact at scale – not just help one or two, or ten or even fifty people – I wanted to help thousands, if not millions, of people. So I founded a venture capital business that invested in startups that focussed on the things I felt most strongly about – improving sleep; improving mental and physical health; helping people to use physical exercise to make them happier and stronger; and providing ways for people to have more fun. In other words…

…Investing in Happiness.

Today, SHUFL has 10 businesses in its “Fund Zero” portfolio and we are about to start fundraising for our Happiness Fund One – our first external capital raise.

I truly believe that some of our founders and their businesses (hopefully all of them) will go on to change the world for the better, helping millions of people to escape from the grip of life-destroying issues and be a little bit happier.

Now you know – that is the Story of SHUFL…

…so far.


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